The other day I began to ponder what I was going to do with my time once I ceased to write my nearly-daily blog “Lessons in Gratitude.” After over three years and 1,000 posts, I have decided to slow down, that I cannot write nearly every day about gratitude. While I cannot say that I’ve said everything there is to be said about gratitude or that I have nothing to express about the things I am grateful for, I have begun repeating myself. It is perhaps time to spend my time–often in the late evenings–doing something different, and that even if I keep writing, it might take a different form, like perhaps finishing the novel I’ve been writing for many (many) years. But I’ve come to realize something important about my daily blogging habit: it is my way of reaching out and sharing my thoughts with the world at large.
In a very real sense, over the past three-plus years I have sent out virtual messages in bottles, flinging my words, thoughts, insights, ideas, etc. out into the ocean of the “world wide web” hoping that someone will read them, think about them and know that I exist. It’s a bit fanciful, but true. A message in a bottle (or tied to sage brush and set loose on a windy western plain as depicted in a movie I saw a number of years ago) is a sending out of oneself, saying “I am here” to anyone who might find it and perhaps even respond. It is an interesting notion.
My evening blog writing is a bookend process–I write a daily journal each morning before I rise and start my day, and most evenings I write and publish a blog, usually about gratitude. I realize now that I am standing on the shores of a virtual ocean, penning my various musings onto a virtual piece of parchment, stoppering it in a virtual glass bottle, and heaving it out into cyberspace, not fully knowing whither it might drift or who might come across it and perhaps even respond in some way, with a “like” or a comment that says, “I see you. Message received.”
For some people, social media has become their way of reaching out to the world. From celebrities with hundreds of thousands of “followers” to regular, everyday people like me, their “tweets” and Facebook posts, snapchats, instagrams, and Pinterests are all their ways of putting messages into bottles and casting them out into the ocean. Perhaps the message in a bottle metaphor doesn’t relate as well to social media: the virtual beaches are littered with broken bottles with meaningless, sometimes harmful messages and comments that people put out there. Still, for some, social media provides a means of putting oneself out into the wider world, for better or for worse.
I currently live only with my canine sidekick who, while a friendly and comforting presence, isn’t much of a conversationalist. I am suddenly realizing that my evening visits to the cyber-ocean are one way of reaching out to human beings from the quiet evening existence I settle into after I return home from interacting with humans all day at work. I’m not sure I would sustain my daily bookend writing practices if I lived with another human. Perhaps my need to connect, to share my words and ideas with the outside world wouldn’t be as strong as it is if I were in regular conversation with a human at home. I like to think that I am sharing tidbits of wisdom, insights and observations about the world around me, and perhaps occasional humorous anecdotes about the amusing moments of everyday life and that I would continue to do so even if I lived with another human. I don’t know.
For now, I will continue to stand on the shore, feeling the mist and spray on my face and the breeze ruffling my clothes as I fling yet another bottled message into the surf. I am content to set it free, let it float away and see what becomes of it.